Prize chit and MLM schemes are banned, and police are not equipped to tackle them, says V. Raghavendra

The recent arrest of Pushpam Appala Naidu, the kingpin in a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme, before a Metropolitan Magistrate here once again brought to the fore the vulnerability of investors expecting abnormal returns from such frauds.

Gold Quest, the dubious firm floated by Appala Naidu, duped several people in Vijayawada to an extent which police are trying to figure out.

Two cases were booked by the CID way back in 2007 under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978, but the accused have since been at large.

Had it not been a chance encounter with Appala Naidu at the Chennai airport in early February, the State police would have had to struggle to get to the bottom of the fraud in which thousands of investors from various countries lost an estimated Rs. 160 crore. Appala Naidu is wanted in India and many South East Asian countries for her nefarious activities, according to police.

The Uma Chit Funds case was yet another eye-opener for people who virtually threw their money hoping to get rich overnight and quite expectedly landed in the kind of trouble they never experienced before. Hundreds of small-time investors in the city got attracted with handsome returns promised by the accused, K. Uma Maheswara Rao, and, obviously, they had not even an iota of suspicion as to how their money that was parked in the company’s illegal deposit and chit schemes would fetch exorbitant interests ranging from 10 to 20 percent.

Between these two high profile cases, there were many such minor instances of financial fraud in Vijayawada even as police grappled with the tough task of keeping track of cheaters who wantonly changed their identification and came up with innovative ways of luring susceptible investors with confidence of being a step ahead of policemen who are burdened with many duties.

Prize chit and MLM schemes are banned, and police are ill-equipped, both in terms of technology and manpower, to tackle them, and what they can do is only some damage-control so long as people refuse to be fooled by fraudsters who would always be lurking to make the fast buck out.

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